Astronomers have created a 3D map of a cosmic structure so gigantic that it is almost impossible to even understand.
“South Pole Wall” is a winding 1.4 billion light-years across and contains hundreds of thousands of galaxies, Live science reports. It is consistent with the Sloan Great Wall, the sixth largest cosmic structure ever discovered with 1.38 billion light years.
“The surprise to us is that this structure is as large as the Sloan Great Wall and twice as close, and remained unnoticed, hidden in a hidden sector of the southern sky,” Daniel Pomarède of Paris-Saclay University and lead author of an article on the research published in The Astrophysical Journal today, told The New York Times in an email.
“The discovery is a wonderful poster child for the power of visualizations in research,”
To create their map of the South Pole Wall, cosmographers must use new sky surveys to look past the “Zone of Galactic Obscuration,” an area in the southern part of the observable universe hidden by the relatively bright Milky Way.
The new research is based on a discovery in 2014 by the same team of cosmographers of a super cluster of galaxies – where Milky Way is one of about 100,000 galaxies that exist within – called “Laniakea.”
To put the size of the South Pole wall into perspective, our own Milky Way is only 52,850 light years.
Counted in miles, the distance from the South Pole wall would ultimately have 21 zeros connected to it. Estimates put the number of grains of sand on earth at just 7.5 quintillions (18 zeros).
These gigantic structures consist of countless lumps called “cosmic paths” that flow into huge hydrogen. Outside of these larger structures, there is not much we know.
To discover, the team came up with a new technology to measure the staggering size of the South Pole wall, which takes into account the galaxy’s velocity as they exert gravitational forces on each other.
This new technology could even take into account dark matter, the mysterious things that are believed to make up about 85 percent of matter in the universe. While dark matter remains a mystery, astronomers suggest that it may be the scaffold that determines the shape of these cosmic structures.
Right now, the largest cosmic structure ever discovered is the Great Wall of Hercules-Corona Boreali, which extends over 10 billion light years. Even then, the wall represents only a tenth of the size of the observable universe, which extends over 93 billion light years.
READ MORE: Astronomers discover the South Pole Wall, a gigantic structure that extends 1.4 billion light years over[[[[Live science]
More about superstructures: Strange Theory: Whole Universe Structured by “Quantum Static”